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Private Audit Firms Rake in Billions To Hide Child Labor

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, in FY2023 there were a record-shattering 137,582 unaccompanied minors entering the United States. Many of these minors end up working extremely dangerous jobs at industrial plants or farms, making money to support their families back in their native countries—a gross violation of U.S. labor laws. A Dec. 28 New York Times article helps to explain how these manufacturing companies are able to exploit child labor and evade detection.

Big corporations, such as McDonalds, Walgreens and Costco, in order to shield themselves from criticism and protect their public image, have resorted to using private audit firms to conduct what are called “compliance audits” of the manufacturing companies which are part of their supply chain. “In the past two decades, private audits have become the solution to a host of public relations headaches for corporations. When scandal erupts over labor practices, or shareholders worry about legal risks, or advocacy groups demand a boycott, companies point to these inspections as evidence that they have eliminated abuses in their supply chains,” the article states. This has become an $80 billion global business. The catch is that these audit firms are paid by the big corporations and their suppliers to conduct the audits and have no accountability whatsoever to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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